Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Doubt I'll Ever Understand the ArchDruid

I asked John for clarification on the paragraph he wrote to me, below. I've linked the comment page, so that if you like, you can see the full conversation. It might be supposed that I'm taking this quote out of context. But it makes no sense to me, so even though I'm in the conversation, it is missing a lot of context already, from my viewpoint.

JMG I've noticed makes very vague statements and you can interpret them different ways. I guess that's a general trait of the religious class. He accused me of oversimplifying, when he's intentional vague. I did simplify, because I'm trying to understand him, and arguing about nitpicking details, in my experience goes nowhere in this sort of discussion. It wouldn't help me understand his philosophy.

The following quote, can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.

John Michael Greer Wrote, "As for the relative culpability of small thieves vs. big thieves, of course you don't see the kind of cheating the government you're likely to commit as the same kind of thing you criticize in Goldman Sachs. Nobody does -- and yet 10 million Americans cheating the government out of $1000 a year very quickly outstrips anything Goldman Sachs has done. The reason why so many people like to project the shadow of their own misdeeds onto some convenient scapegoat, such as bankers, is that it allows them to ignore the impact that their own actions have when multiplied by the millions of people who are doing the same thing.

You do share their guilt; that's why you're trying to pin so much blame on them."

If he's not engaging in a personal attack, or arguing that if I don't like being a victim, then I must be a criminal, then maybe he's discussing mass guilt? I hope he's not trying to defend and support the crimes that GS is committing.

As I can't get him to give me a straight answer on anything, does anyone know his position on this? Does he believe that we are all individually responsible for all of the sins and crimes committed by our fellow man?

I'll admit at one time, I felt responsible for events unfolding in my country. I did so because for a time, I stood behind some of the people that had gone on to do a great deal of damage to my beloved country. I have learned from that. I now oppose most of the politicians and the system that are nurturing the corruption. I've lost my faith in political parties as they exist today. I've come to understand that power does give shelter, for corruption to fester in.

I do not believe that I am responsible for what other men do. I am not responsible for their actions and decisions. I am not responsible for the crimes of men that will never meet and never influence. And I am not responsible for crimes that I oppose.

JMG is clear I believe in telling me that because I oppose these crimes, I share the guilt in them. So in his view, I am guilty of a host of terrible crimes.

I wonder what crimes that JMG does not support? Does he feel he is guilty of these crimes?

Is this any way to go through life? Carrying the load of the world's guilt upon your shoulders?

John Michael Greer wrapped it up with an accusation that I'm a criminal tax cheat. I seem to have a real knack for finding some unusual people on the web. I sent him a civil response, asking him not to call me a criminal in public. I told him that he didn't seem to actually be reading what I wrote, and did my best to correct his interpretation of what I had written.

At the top of my reply, I mentioned that he should probably not allow the comment, as I am addressing it just to him, and I don't have his email address. I told him i would continue reading his articles, but I would no longer comment.

The exchange I had with him, reminded me a lot of the problems I had in a Baptist Sunday School as a child, that led to me being kicked out of the church at 13. I asked too many questions. I was bothered by the inconsistencies. And I was informed that Satan filled me questions and I was dammed for all eternity. Maybe that's not such a bad thing, if this is what hanging with religious leaders will be like in the afterlife.

When you or anyone else cheats on your taxes, you're pocketing government revenues. When you or anyone else votes your pocketbook rather than your conscience, you're distorting government decisions for personal profit. When you or anyone else dismisses what's left of our constitutional government as a fascist regime, you're undermining democracy. The faults of the government are simply the faults of the people, projected onto a larger screen; every people, in other words, gets exactly the government it deserves.

This is why it's so disingenuous for people like you to insist that those evil so-and-so's in Wall Street and Washington are responsible for everything wrong with this country. That insistence is an attempt to excuse their own contributions to our troubles by blaming others. Carl Jung called it "projecting the shadow," and it's become very nearly universal in contemporary American politics.

As for me, well, I don't claim to be blameless, but I don't cheat on my taxes, I don't vote my pocketbook, and I don't trash talk what's left of American democracy. You do the math.


At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One day a peasant woman came to visit Gandhi.

She brought with her her young son. She told Gandhi that her son was addicted to sweets. The sugar made him hyper and too wild to attend school. She hoped Gandhi would tell her son to stop eating sugar. She was sure that her son would listen to him.

Gandhi paused and then told the woman to come back in one week.

She came back one week later.

Gandhi took the little boy, sat him on his lap and said simply, "Please do not eat sugar. It is bad for you."

The boy smiled, promised to stop and returned back to his mother. His mother was understandably stunned. She had traveled over 100 miles. It was a difficult journey.

Bewildered she approached Gandhi and asked, "Why didn't you just tell him to quit eating sugar last week when I first approached you?"

Gandhi smiled and said patiently, "Last week, I too, was still eating sugar. ... We must be the change we wish to see in the world."

At 8:25 AM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

Wild Gypsy, I added to my post since you commented.

John clarified his position. I don't think that he's saying what you are saying.

I have a relative that was angry at me when I was 16 for attending a protest. He told me that America has to build weapons, have wars and kill people to steal their stuff, because that's what makes America great. He warned me never to say bad things about his country. It's the greatest in the world and that's why God loves us best.

That relative taught me an important lesson about people.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

Read our complete exchange on John's site.

I posted snippets to highlight our worst misunderstandings.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

I feel bad about the exchange on 'The ArchDruid Report'. It has me a little depressed.

I really made an effort to connect with John Michael Greer, and to try to understand his point of view. At least that was my intention.

I didn't intend to agree with him about everything. But our views appear to be so different, that he felt he had no choice but to lash out and attack me in self defense.

And he's attacking me out of patriotism. If I say a bad word about Goldman Sachs employees, then I'm attacking his country and his US Constitution. Out of patriotism and nationalism, he's forced to defend them Goldman Sachs against me.

What freaks me out in this exchange, is his call for tolerance and restraint, coupled with his attacks to defend corporatism, from a flag waving nationalistic stance. And all the while he says that the USA has no fascist tendencies at all, because the USA does not engage in violence.

I really didn't expect this from him at all. I saw a new side of him.

The topics I enjoy discussing, really can't be shared outside of a small self selected audience. The words that are needed, to discuss politics and governmental systems, are explosive and go off at the slightest misunderstanding.
Our jingoistic nationalism is pervasive and undetectable under a very thin coat of culture.

I'm certainly no angel. I can say I really tried, but I'm sure I could have done better in our exchange. But I think that he and I simply can't discuss these topics if we disagree on any point.

My old Sunday School teacher knew I was different, and explained as I was filled with the Spirit of Satan and Eternally UnRedeemable. I've always been one to turn over rocks and pick at scabs. I can't seem to help myself.

I think though, that I may have learned all I need to know about the various internet personalities. I have some online friends that I can discuss these topics with in detail. I need to learn to stick with that group and take my own advice of keeping my head down.

Chicken postings will follow shortly...

At 11:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel bad about the exchange on 'The ArchDruid Report'. It has me a little depressed.

That's a bummer, weaseldog. I hope you don't let an online exchange of opinions get you down... there are so many more things in real life to keep in context.

For example, I just came from the St. Vincent de Paul's looking for some yarn. Man that place is packed with some seriously stressed out folks on both sides of the counter.

I'll look at the exchange in a bit, and I look forward to any chicken pics, oh and the story I posted above is one of my favorites. :)

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

I like that story. I'm not that depressed. I'm getting over the flu and that's likely a contributing factor.

JMG, continues to let my comments through. I'm trying to get him to see that he is simply misunderstanding what I am saying.

I've been through this with another person in group chat and emails, where I repeated over and over that we agree on a certain point, and he kept saying, "Why don't you agree with me! Why can't you see my point of view!" As if he couldn't read my words, but read what he thought I was should be saying.

I'll let you give me a reality Check Wild Gypsy. Tell me if I'm hallucinating what I'm writing. :)

My backyard is till green and I have 25 baby chicks that need my care. Between them, the grown chickens, dogs, cats and of course my Wife, I don't have much time to be depressed over opinions on the internet. :)

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Publius said...

JMG is a smart man. He's done a lot of research. He has come up with a theory and a viewpoint,and nothing anybody says is going to change his view or his interpretations of the reality he observes.

Part of reality, however, includes the FACT that our government has been, for some time, using paramilitary tactics against innocent, unarmed citizens. This is done on the local, state, and national levels. See links below, or click here for one.

Is this fascism? Is it a tyranny? It's a tyranny of some kind, or even a mixture of kinds: tyranny of the majority at times (drug war), tyranny of corporate interests, etc.

The fact that paramilitary tactics are being used now in the drug war indicates to me that these tactics would be used against political dissidents in a heartbeat if they are perceived to be a threat, as they were at the G20 in Pittsburgh.

Don't feel bad about your exchange with Greer. The fault is primarily his, as he is the moderator of his blog, and he sets the agenda.

I'm not even going to bother commenting there anymore. I may or may not read him - there is plenty of overlap on the web, places that cover the same topics. There's an infuriating lack of something chez Greer, and I don't know what it is. I just smell it. He's chosen his vantage point, and he's damn well sticking to it.

At 1:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I wouldn't count on me to be a reality check. Like everyone else, I see things the way that I understand them. But, I can give you a some words on my understanding in the hopes that it helps you make sense of your exchange.

JMG's article is entitled, "Strange bright banners" and he is warning about extreme claims being made by folks, i.e., fascism as bad as Nazi Germany. He states there is a danger in doing so because it sets up a perception of desperation where we may likely latch onto anything offered to replace it.

You countered with wanting to know just why it wasn't as bad as that at this point.

He responded that there are structural differences at the political/economic leve, we still have freedoms left and that the level of horrors (violence against citizens) does not equal that of Nazi Germany.

Where I believe you began perceiving an ad hominem is the point where he begins talking about social mind-sets... what I have previously described as "graft occurs at every level."

I believe that he is saying that you cannot just point to the upper levels of corruption and point the finger of blame. It must be rooted out with individual responsibility. This is where my story above fits in. It is akin to saying, "I must remove the speck from my own eye."


At 1:19 PM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

Thank you Wild Gypsy. Your reasoning makes sense.

At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think he saying not to say such things out of patriotism or that you, I or anyone else in the studio audience is bad. I believe that he is warning against extreme interpretations of the situation and that if the situation seems that extreme to anybody at this time, they should do a self-inventory.

Well, for myself, I have never found a self-inventory to be a bad thing. I've done it several times on the topic of white privilege in order to understand my beliefs, bias, prejudices that perpetuate racism in often unconscious ways. However, it doesn't mean I will like everything I see or that I will dislike it... usually a mixture of both.

Anyway, don't take this as gospel just take it for it's worth.

Have a great day!

At 1:34 PM, Blogger Publius said...

Great points, Wild Gypsy.

In physics, there is a severe problem that was discovered in the early 20th century: the act of observing the experiment actually changes the reality being observed!

I would argue that JMG's less "extreme" view (than mine) of the current state of our political and economic system results from his relative privilege. This is not to denigrate his thinking at all, just to point out what might cause him to see the views of others (also based on their observations) as "extreme."

If he had been wounded in a SWAT team raid by mistake, or had his hearing destroyed by the new sound-beam weapons in Pittsburgh during the G20, or had his protest group infiltrated by the government during the awful Republican convention here in the Twin Cities last summer, he might have a different view.

The GOOD thing is that the use of police powers hasn't been completely integrated and systematized yet as it was on Nazi Germany or the USSR. The local police still have the power to say no. But in St. Paul, Minnesota last summer the local police did not say no. They did not say "no" in Pittsburgh: they terrorized their own citizens. The SWAT teams and unethical prosecutors who are pursuing convictions instead of the truth are not saying no.

So Greer is right about the fact that oppression hasn't been systematized and then taken to the extreme it was elsewhere in real fascist societies. However, those of trying to point out the early parallels are not extremists: more akin to canaries in the coal mine.

Imagine a Jew who warned his fellow Jews about what was coming in 1934 - he would have been ridiculed as extreme, but he would have been prescient.

Finally, liberty has been so whittled down over the years that the nature of our society today WOULD warrant an extreme cry of revulsion from our ancestors. What is extreme or not is partly a matter of what you are used to. We are not really familiar with what freedom is like, so we do not see our current circumstances as extreme.

The use of paramilitary tactics against citizens, which is increasingly common, is an extreme violation of civil rights and the principles of a free society. No due process means justice is dead.

Just because a majority of the victims of such tactics are the poor, or even drug dealers, does not negate the dangers that this barely latent fascism poses to the greater society.

At 6:45 AM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

JMG selectively deleted our discussion, and left it with him correcting me on a point that he misunderstood.

I'm surprised that he didn't do that sooner.

At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weaseldog, I posted the following message to him this morning:

JMG, I hope that you at least apologize to Weaseldog for saying you think he is stupid. You may disagree with his position, but from what I read he was not saying unkind personal remarks. He was merely asking questions directly related to your thesis.

Claiming moral authority involves both compassion and integrity.


If he does apologize to you, please let me know.

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would argue that JMG's less "extreme" view (than mine) of the current state of our political and economic system results from his relative privilege.

I believe there is weight to that argument. On my blog, I have been following some of the tactics used against homeless people (I have heard them referred to recently as economic refugees)including sweeps.

On July 27, 2009, I examined the use of tasers particularly it's use against children and it is my belief it is torture.

What would Dante say?

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

Thank you Wild Gypsy.

I'll let you know if he does apologize.

JMG really is an Arch Druid.


As such, he's a religious leader and he must demonstrate an air of confidence and wisdom.

I'm not trying to denigrate what he does or he is, as overall I respect his intellect and the things he's brought to the Peak Oil community. I understand what he has to do, to remain who he is.

His ArchDruid page is read by members of his flock, And on that page, I'm just a guest. In that realm he really does need to win all of the discussions.

That's why, after a few posts, I put a warning at he top of my comment, asking him not to publish the comment. I was happy to leave it were it was. If I had his email address, I would've sent him an email instead. Where I left it at that point, had him admonishing me for making a historical mistake, when in fact, he misunderstood my point.

He chose to publish my remarks and continue the discussion. I was actually surprised by that. I don't think that he took the time to really read my comments. And that is likely how we got into such a big misunderstanding. And that's all I think it was.

I don't get the same air from him that I get from the likes of Karl Denninger. Karl is just mean spirited with a giant ego. I think John, just made a mistake in reading what I wrote, then backed himself into a corner. Because of his duties as a spiritual leader, he couldn't back down. So he simply deleted most of the comments.

I'm not interested in harming his position in his community. I don't have it out for him. So I'm good with where we left it. I'll likely just refrain from commenting on his blog in the future. Now that I understand that it's not a platform to discuss differing viewpoints, I'll be a better guest.

At 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're okay with it. That's the most important thing, eh? :)

ā€œIf you meet the Buddha, kill him.ā€ ā€” Linji

At 9:44 AM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

Wild Gypsy said... "I'm glad you're okay with it. That's the most important thing, eh? :)"

I guess so. :)

I have plenty of other things to worry over.

At 12:21 PM, Blogger dermot said...

I've read the Archdruid for a while. You have to separate the wheat from the chaff on his posts.

It can be tedious, as he likes to have his cake AND eat it.

E.G., he excoriates "doomers", yet he believes that we're heading for catabolic collapse and a new, permanent Dark Age!

He ridicules those of use who believe that we are living in, or heading towards a fascist state (albeit a relatively pleasant one, at least for us) - how he reconciles this with a state of affairs where illegal wars are started in Iraq and Lebanon, where the two party system no longer works (if indeed it ever did), where corporations are recognised as "legal persons" and have more influence than any number of voters is beyond me.

He ridicules the "Great Turning", as the writer of that book wants a world led by an enlightened elite, yet JMG acts in exactly the way the GT writer describes, enforcing his own rigid world view, DELETING comments made by those with whom he disagrees. The worst example of this was his banning of Jason Godesky, the brilliant creator of anthropik.com.

Greer didn't like the cut of his jib, as Jason is more than his intellectual equal (and a Deep Ecologist to boot) - and invoked "Godwin's Law" as a spurious reason to lock Jason out of the site.

If JMG ever offers places in his Ecovillage/Monastery, he can count me out. Sitting around in a circle chanting "You are so very very clever, JMG" isn't my idea of a good time. A hard-nosed Roman Catholic childhood was bad enough. I've learned to smell the stink of Authoritarianism.

JMG says that doomers believe in doom because it's a religious belief. Well, likely true for some - I've seen them all over the web - but that doesn't mean we all believe in doom for religious reasons. In my case, it's based on mounting empirical evidence (having been a technophile for the first 33 years of my life).
Is JMG so sure that he's any different from the religiously oriented, with his "Catabolic Collapse" model?
It's a bit rich for a "Druid" to lecture anyone on religious belief system.

Hm. How's that cake, John? Yummy, I'm sure. Don't worry about the indigestion - that's just cognitive dissonance. It will pass.


He reminds me a bit of Oliver Cromwell, who pleaded with the rebellious Irish: "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, to consider that you might be wrong". There is no evidence that Oliver ever applied the same question to himself. There is evidence that he slaughtered many thousands of Irish peasants, however.

More cake, anyone?

JMG shares one characteristic with many other doomers (and he is a doomer, whatever he tells himself) - he has chosen ONE MODEL of collapse, and is married to it. Kunstler has a specific vision, as does Orlov. All clever men, but very committed to a particular vision of the fall.

The future, as they surely know, is a continuum. All we can do is assign probabilities to a variety of outcomes.

Oh - there's a reason why I don't post on JMG's blog - why bother? It's a lot of effort to expend on a man who's as likely to delete every word you write!

At 12:43 PM, Blogger Weaseldog said...

Welcome Dermot :)

Yes, assign a probability of outcomes is all we can do. And i think history shows us that outcomes involving mass preparation and voluntary changes in lifestyles, are so rare, we can ignore them.

When I first started to really understand Peak Oil and what it would mean, I used the perestroika model as a means to understand it. I think there is a lot to learn from that example.

But Perestroika assumes a recovery. If we subtract the recovery, then Perestroika begins to look like a best case fantasy.

It seems to me that a common feature of people who publish books on the unfolding collapse, is that they have to apply some sort of happy face to the crisis, to give the readers comfort. After that, I suppose then, you need to stick to your story.

Perhaps, we the unpublished are in a better position to adapt. We can change our position as circumstances change, and we learn new things.

And we can admit we were wrong and not lose any money on it. If i lose credibility from the faithful by being wrong sometimes, I'm fine with that.

For instance, I really thought we'd be at war with Iran while Bush was still in office. i even wrote about it, cementing my mistake into the internet, for all time, or until the power goes out.

I am very happy that I was wrong about that prediction.


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